Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Have You Seen This???

This poor horse -- bless her soul -- got her head stuck in a tree. Unbelievable. You can read more about it here. Best line in the article -- and I quote : "It remains unclear why Gracie put her head into the gap. "

* Photo by Wenn

Happy New Years!

Two years ago today, this is how I rang in the New Year:

~ The After Party ~
(with family and official wedding party)

~ New Years Eve Dessert ~

~ Bonnie, Mom, Hil, Jill, and Mary ~

~ Toy & Goss ~

~ First Dance ~

{Best New Years Kiss!}

~ Hil, Mary, and Bonnie ~

~ Heather and Paul ~

What a Celebration!

Tonight will be much more low key: French buffet (with crepes-to-order) at Chef's Market. Yum!

Happy New Years!

Celebrating Our Anniversary

Today is our second anniversary but we already celebrated in Italy at the start of December. It was a fantastic getaway!

Our official celebratory dinner was spent at a delicious and memorable restaurant on our last evening in Florence. For our first course, we split a sampler of pastas. I think I was already full after our FIFTH pasta dish ... but there was more to come!
I can't decide whether my favorite pasta was the one with spinach sauce (pictured above) or the one with pumpkin sauce. Each was delicious!
This was my attempt at capturing the aura of the restaurant without looking like a tourist by whipping out the camera and taking a million shots. Can you tell it had awesome atmosphere?

This was my yummo steak. It was covered in balsamic vinegar -- amazing!

We also shared a dessert sampler platter. So fun!
After dinner we walked along the Arno and through the Uffizi and by Ponte Vecchio. So romantic!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech that you are used to seeing in print." --George Orwell

I'm thankful: 50 Law Schools with Best Financial Aid Ratios.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Things I'm enjoying today:

1. Harry & David's Cranberry Relish over Fat Free Cream Cheese and Wheat Thins. What a treat!

2. Hiking Socks. (Okay -- maybe that's everday of my life now. I do wear hiking socks with boots almost every single day of the year now -- but I can still really love it today. Maybe it's because I'm donning a new pair .... )

3. Paris Breakfasts. Check this out if you need a visual vacation. And you probably do need a visual vacation since it's your first day back to work after a long holiday.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

What a Whirlwind!

Happy Holidays everyone! Since we've been back in the states, life has been so busy. We've been on the road and never in one place longer than a few days. As I write, I know I will be  in this location for at least three nights. Amidst the chaos, we've been having a blast and have been so blessed to see so many loved ones. Here's to a hectic but very rewarding time back in the states!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thinking of Going Abroad?

If you've ever wanted to go to Europe, this might be a great deal for you!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

Life is busy! And I'm loving it! Being back in the US is fabulous!

I'll be back to the blogosphere soon with tales to tell!

xxoo Ashli

Friday, December 12, 2008

Evidence I'm Back in the South

I whipped up a Banana Pudding last night!
Secret Ingredient = Eagle Brand Sweet Condensed Milk

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A True Confession

Last week once we checked into our hotel in Florence at 2 pm ... right on the dot .... we headed out for a late lunch. Not a problem in late lunching culture, or so I thought. As we stepped in the door to the local trattoria, the cook joked with us about why we had come to his restaurant. Perhaps it was to dance he suggested. I gave him a big smile and laughed. Surely we weren't a bother. Surely??? Oh no -- we were his amusement! This chef gave us the royal treatment! After we had ordered and eaten our primi (first) course, he came out to inquire as to what we wanted for our second course. He really didn't speak English. I have neither the ability to speak Italian or accurately read Italian. He communicated through lots of hand motions that he wanted to bring a sample of something to our table for us to try. That sounded great to me. He brought the plate out ... I had no clue what it was ... and truly unlike the expat in me, I wholeheartedly sampled this cuisine the chef was so very proud of. The dish was small slivers of something in a white wine/garlic sauce. Harmless right? So I took a bite. Swallowed. Meanwhile, Matt is inquring as to what the mystery dish actually was. The chef says the following: "the cow pee." The cow pee??? Fabulous. I then had to reckon with the fact that I had just heartily sampled cow bladder.

Friday, December 5, 2008


For our last night, we decided to stay in a small Bed & Breakfast. After several nights in a "Small Leading Hotels of the World" hotel, we wanted to stay in an Italian home -- specifically a Florentine home -- so a B & B was the answer. Right now, I'm propped up against the backboard of a mahogany Italian bed. Colorful frescoes surround me -- on the walls and the ceilings. And get this -- the frescoes date back over 500 years ago. Do the math. That means these frescoes were painted in the Renaissance. The past few days have been magically dreamy. It couldn't be more perfect. I am in love with this city and I can't wait to tell you all about it.

Best wishes,

xxoo Ashli

Monday, December 1, 2008

Off to the Renaissance Land

We'll be back this weekend with many tales to tell!
* Picture Courtesy of the Fabulous, One and Only Rebecca B. Manor


Since it is December 1, I feel like I can go into full-Christmas mode now! I absolutely love this season and want to share with you all the fun things I'm looking forward to:

Attend Norwegian Carol Concert
See the Lights Switch on in Edinburgh
Christmas Shop at the Highlands Market and German Village
Celebrating my dad's birthday
Go Ice Skating
Get creative with wrapping gifts (Inspiration)
Watch It's a Wonderful Life, make spiced cider.
Make Christmas Cookies for friends and family (Inspiration)
Address and Mail Christmas Cards
Listen to Christmas music absolutely everday (started that one already!)
Go to The Nutcracker ... or Harry Connick Jr. at the Ryman anyone?
Listen to Handel's Messiah
Go see a live Nativity/Walk through Bethlehem
Make Thick Hot Chocolate
Put up a ribbon sash for Christmas cards
Donate canned goods
Give neighbors a present
Put up a wreath
Make a Gingerbread house
Shop for Christmas presents for the entire fam
Sing (or listen) to favorite Christmas songs
Drive around to see neighborhood lights (that will be done in America)
Go out and see public light display
Read Christmas story from the Bible
Open a gift
Make a traditional family dessert (or create a new one)
Eat out at a festive restaurant (I'll be hitting up all my hometown favs!)
Go to a seasonal movie
Sit around the fire
Make decorative sugar cookies
Host a Christmas party
Write out a Christ-centered goal to start early for the New Year
Have a movie party watching classic Christmas movies (Elf included)
Go to a Christmas Concert (Harry Connick Jr.??)
Have a full traditional breakfast while listening to Christmas music
Christmas shop in Tuscany!
Go back to America!!!!
Exchange gifts
Go to Christmas Vespers Service
Be with my family!!!

So tell me. What are you looking forward to?

* Picture courtesy of Martha Stewart

Friday, November 28, 2008

When Black Friday is Not Spent at Green Hills or Opry Mills Mall

What could Black Friday possibly look like when not taking place at either of the two above institutions???

Well, for starters -- it starts slow and late. I was not up at 5 am scurrying out the door for the latest and greatest deals with 1.2 million of my closest friends and neighbors.

Second of all -- since there were 1.2 million less shopping on Black Friday in Scotland, there were zilch crowds. Which, made my shopping this morning quick and pleasurable. I've never stopped by so many stores in such a short amount of time. This is nothing short of a miracle on Princes Street. In turn, I actually made a purchase ... another thing that verges on the side of miracles ... because I never buy things here. And I mean never. (All purchases can be totalled on one hand).

Next, I made a stop at the German Market and the Highland Market. I bought a German pretzel and wandered through the maze of vendors. Good fun!

And now? I'm working! Not too exciting ... but we do have good friends coming over this evening for leftovers. I feel a bit guilty about this because our friends coming over have more leftovers than we do .... and I think I could very well drive my friend nuts by sending her a thousand and one emails about food for tonight (guilt-ridden emails??) ... I hope this dear friend does not go dearly nuts because of me. I digress .......

I do hope you're enjoying your Black Friday! I will be in America for Box Day... oh that flight back over the pond is approaching .... yay!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


On this my second Thanksgiving Day in Scotland, I have so much to be grateful for ... a devoted and virtuous husband, a loving and supportive family, a great community of wonderful friends (on two continents!), God's gracious provision .... there's so many blessings I could list. From our home to yours, have a very blessed and happy Thanksgiving.

- Ashli

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

For all the Hometown Locals

My dad is speaking tonight for a special Thanksgiving service at New Vision Church at 7pm. Email me for details if you're interested.
"… the essence of social conservatism is preservation of the ancient moral traditions of humanity. Conservatives respect the wisdom of their ancestors …; they are dubious of wholesale alteration. They think society is a spiritual reality, possessing an eternal life but a delicate constitution: it cannot be scrapped and recast as if it were a machine." - Russell Kirk

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Here's the video every American must see: I.O.U.S.A.

Jingle from White Christmas

Blue days all of them gone.
Nothing but blue skies from now on.
Blue skies smiling at me.
Nothing but blue skies do I see!

Not an Everyday Sighting

The other day I was walking out of my local Starbucks (red cup in hand) and I saw these fellows trotting down our cobblestone street: Our policemen are heroically guarding our streets in Edinburgh.

The policelady (above) smiled at me when I whipped out my camera. Ha!
And the horses left the local villagers with such a nice departure gift! (Note the pooh left on our cobblestone street). It's a good thing it rains so much here!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Watching ....

I'm watching An American Time Bomb. I wish you could see it. The U.S. has the greatest trade deficit in the world. We're in debt in all four sectors. It's a big mess ... much like a "time bomb" waiting to explode. Could this recession be a wake up call?

Just Around the Corner ...

I adore this street around the corner from our flat:

Isn't it so charming?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"The glory of a good man is the witness of a good conscience." - Thomas a Kempis

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dublin Castle ... and a Slight Obsession with Chandeliers

The Throne

Hand-woven carpet in the Ladies Waiting Room.

Of course in Ireland, all the chandeliers are Waterford.

The Ladies Waiting Room -- where ladies waited until they were asked to dance -- some spent more time in there than others.

The Spirit of Dublin

We just arrived to O'Connell Street. I was thrilled to see Christmas decorations!
Exploring the streets off of Grafton. Such a fun part of town!

Very cool Dublin store: Avoca. You can read more about it here.

O'Connell Street by the Liffey

St. Patrick's Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral

The Liffey

Post Office -- One of the five buildings taken over by the revolutionaries in the early 20th Century.

Dublin Castle

Trinity College

St. Patrick's Cathedral

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